The Postal Rule & 14 Lessons From Canberra Gov 2.0 Event

Rohit Bhargava and I teamed up with Senator Kate Lundy to present a half-day government Web 2.0 workshop last Friday in Canberra, Australia. The Gov 2.0 workshop was sponsored by Frocomm Communications and drew more than 50 government and non-profit communications and marketing professionals.  You can download our presentations here:

Brian GiesenRohit BhargavaSenator Kate Lundy

If you’re someone who looks after communications for a federal or state government agency here in Australia or across Asia Pacific, here are 15 reasons why you should be moving toward including social media into your communications programmes starting now and for 2010. Here they are, in no particular order:

1 .Citizens Trust Each Other:  Today, Australians are trusting each other more than what they read in a newspaper or see in an advertisement. Faith in a trusted “citizen stranger” is on the rise.

2. The Postal Rule. Joanne McGovern of GovGab once said at a Government Web 2.0 event in Washington that agencies should be active in social media for the same reason that the Post Office builds post offices in city centres – because that’s where the people are. That’s true here in Australia, with 84% of online adults having visited a social network in the past month.

Brian Giesen Gov 2.0

3. Expectations Have Changed. Web sites are no longer the final destination online. People expect to find organisations and agencies across the social Web – on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and others.

4.  Search is The New Homepage.gov.au. What happens when you enter in your agency’s name into Google? Are you responsible for 100% of the top 10 results? You should be. Social media sites now filter up and account for a large percentage of search results, so if you’re being proactive your search “share of voice” will be closer to 100%.

5. Listening Can Make Your Communciations Smarter. If your agency oversees tourism or curbing youth violence, you can use a technology and the mind of a strategist to unearth some great insights by listening to what people are saying on blogs, Twitter and forums about those topics.

6. Answer Constituent Questions. Through listening, you might find many of your constituents are talking about your agency, or perhaps posting questions about the services your agency offers, online in social media. By responding or offering answers through your Web site, you can build goodwill, better serve the public, and fulfill your agency’s overall mission.

7. Generates ROI. While most government agencies are not in the business of selling products, it’s important to be aware of the positive cases where businesses are using social media to generate significant revenue.

8. Motivate People to Take Action. For a major restaurant here in Australia, we drove more than 85,000 to become fans of the restaurant on Facebook in one week and created lines wrapping around the block to launch a new type of chicken burger. The lesson for is that we can use social media to drive people to take action offline – whether that’s changing a health behaviour, or taking steps to help the environment.

9. Extend the Reach of Events. Many government agencies organise events throughout the year and could be using social media to expand the reach of what they’re doing – whether it’s Twittering from the event, shooting video interviews with people who are attending, or sharing photos from the event on Flickr.

10. Agency Staff are Hungry for Training. From workshop sessions that I’ve held from Canberra to Kuala Lumpur, I have seen firsthand how interested government agency staff members are for training in social media. Creating an internal training culture/program for your agency can go along away toward building understanding and capacity.

11. Listen Instead of Monitor. Listening implies that you’re both looking for insights and are willing take action upon the information you find by listening to what the public is saying about your agency or a topic in social media.

12.  Offer Real Time Information. Use social media tools – whether it’s Twitter or Facebook – to provide useful real-time information. The Washington DC Government’s Inauguration 2009 Twitter account is a great example of a government agency that used social media to get the word out in real time about major events.

13.  Share the Positive Stories. Many agency communicators wonder what they might Tweet about, but in addition to sharing information from your agency you might share the positive stories that are out there by simply re-Tweeting good things that people are saying about you.

14. Engage People Where They Are. Knowing that people are using social media more and more, it’s important to engage people where they are – which could be Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or other social media sites.

15. Pilot, Pilot, Pilot! Start out by trying out managable projects that require smaller amounts of resources but have the potential to generate large numbers of discussions online. As an example, your agency might start out by launching a one-month group blog, or Tweeting a fact-a-day for 24 hours during a major health observance.